Discuss The Evolution Of The Creature In Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" And Account For Its Enduring Popularity And Appropriations.

2425 words - 10 pages

Frankenstein's enduring popularity is directly related to the relevance of the manifestation of the Creature to the social themes and ethical issues. At the time of Shelly, the fear of the "dangerous new science" of galvanism is captured in the unnatural science of the Creatures creation, despite his articulate and compassionate nature. However, appropriated in James Whales era of rapid technological advancement, the Creatures role as a warning is undermined in the transformation of the "mad scientist" into a hero of sorts. As technological change reaches the new frontier of genetic engineering, the Creature is recast once more into the sensitive, intelligent mould exhibited in Chris Carters The X Files "Post-Modern Prometheus". The danger of biological weapons technology is explored in the 2003 special edition of Alien Resurrection - an issue that will no doubt face present-day society if genetic engineering becomes common practice. This is contrasted with the 1999 movie Deep Blue Sea, where the morality or trying to cure Alzheimer's disease is balanced with the immorality of gene experimentation. In a different manor, the 1997 animated satiric comedy South Park "Pig and Elephant DNA" humorously explores the morality of the creation of a human clone reminiscent of Whales creation in a contemporary setting.Mary Shelley's original "Frankenstein" became the source of the "Frankenstein" of popular culture that has been appropriated into an enduring icon. It deals with the idea of the original "mad scientist" Victor Frankenstein attempting to aid humanity in the medical research that led to the creation of the Creature. Like the present day, Shelley's time can be described as on the verge of a technological breakthrough - the discovery of galvanism and the eventual discovery of electricity. In addressing the issue of mankind's overreaching - important not only to her time period, but future ones - the popularity of Frankenstein and its subsequent remakes is assured. An example is Victors longing to "create a being like myself", which uses a simile to draw parallels to God making mankind in his own image. The obvious unnaturalness of the Creature sides with the technophobic fears of Shelly by making Victor a metaphor for an overreaching society - and representative of the consequences. This creates empathy between readers in Shelley's time and the characters in the book. Similarly, Mary Shelley addresses issues of feminism and socialism, the relevance of which accounts for the established popularity of "Frankenstein" that led to is remakes. People in Shelley's time could have appreciated the irony of the Creatures observations of society leading him to value "high and unsullied descent united with riches". Similarly, the patriarchal elements of the society are evident in the use of possessive adjectives in "she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift". The Creature is used as a medium for social self examination - focusing on issues of...

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